The Public Policy & Advocacy Committee (“PPAC”) has been critical to and actively engaged in carrying out the mission of the National Coalition of 100 Black Women, which is “To advocate on behalf of Black women and girls to promote leadership development and gender equity in the areas of health, education and economic empowerment.”   Over the past year, the PPAC has embodied the definition of advocacy, “the deliberate process of influencing those who make policy decisions,” in a variety of ways, from meetings with elected officials, to letter writing campaigns, to co-sponsoring educational forums and Law Day for high school students, to offering testimony at County Supervisors’ meetings and participating in focus groups.

In the area of health advocacy, in December 2017, the PPAC participated in the health fair sponsored by Heart & Soul magazine at the Center of Hope Church.  We also sent letters to elected officials on a number of occasions, supporting affordable health care for all, urging support of Medicare and Social Security for all, and urging legislative action on gun control to stem the ravishes of gun violence to the health of our community.

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The Committee was very active in the area of education.  We educated ourselves about the plight of Black girls in the Oakland School District (“OUSD”) and met with the Director of the African-American Female Excellence Program (“AAFE”), the District’s program to support and enhance the academic, social and personal achievement of our girls.  We replicated the AAFE’s listening campaign with the Positive Steps girls, involving them in focus groups to identify challenges they face in their respective schools.  The PPAC coordinated with the program Committee to make presentations to the Positive Steps girls at their monthly meetings.  Our Committee members attended School Board meetings.  We also participated as a member of the League of Women Voters’ (“LWVO”) Education Committee, and with them, met with 4 members of the Board of Education regarding budget, African American girls, civic education, and other issues.  We co-sponsored two televised education forums with LWVO, co-sponsored a reception for the new Superintendent of OUSD, spoke with her regarding the AAFE program, and on separate occasions, wrote letters to the Superintendent and School Board members seeking prioritization of Black girls as the budget process moved forward.  We proudly co-sponsored Law Day for high school students, at the Boys and Girls Club in Richmond.  Over 80 students participated in workshops, career discussions with legal professionals, and other activities centered on the law.

The PPAC chose affordable housing as its primary economic empowerment focus, targeting displacement and home ownership as priorities.   We collaborated with other organizations, chiefly those in a collective called Our Beloved Community, to lobby for anti-displacement policies and programs in Oakland and Alameda County.  We attended and testified at meetings of the County Board of Supervisors and its committees, and at County department meetings.  We participated in a focus group regarding structuring of a County bond program, and wrote letters to Council members and supervisors to spur action to stop displacement.   We also coordinated with the Economic Empowerment Committee to plan the successful First Time Homebuyers’ Workshop, and attended a State hearing regarding the housing crisis.

Finally, we were involved in voter education and civic engagement efforts.  We created and disseminated a voter registration informational flyer.  We offered voter registration materials and registered voters at Chapter activities, such as the Madame C. J .Walker Luncheon, Fab Fridays, and Oakland’s Art & Soul celebration.  Our members participated in the NCBW Legislative Days in Washington, D.C., and the CA Legislative Day in Sacramento (which we also financially supported).

And this program year is off to a busy start with our co-sponsorship of a number of voter education events.  On September 20, at Merritt College, we are co-sponsoring a candidates’ forum with Black Women Organized for Political Action “BWOPA”).  On September 21, at Oakland City Hall, we will hold a forum with LWVO, featuring candidates for the Peralta College District Board and Oakland District 6.  A forum on October 5 will include candidates for Mayor for Oakland.  In addition to the forums, we will continue to distribute voting information, undertake voter registration, and continue with our initiatives in health, education, and economic empowerment.  We can only continue to serve as strong advocates for Black women and girls with the support of all of our members.  We must do the work necessary to keep our members informed, and must also participate and be visible at events we co-sponsor.  We seek new members for the PPAC and ask that all members support our Committee and our Chapter as we make our work, and our brand, even better known in the Bay Area.